Racing one last time with the No. 1 competition number on his car for the 2023 season, outgoing NHRA Funny Car world champion Ron Capps went out early at the In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals Sunday at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip. His NAPA Auto Parts Toyota GR Supra started to haze the tires in the first round of eliminations, marking the end of Capps’ second season as a driver and team owner.
In qualifying, Capps started with an off-pace pass in Friday’s first session before laying down a 3.908-second run that put him sixth going into Saturday’s two sessions. A 3.915 E.T. followed in Q3, then a 3.882-second blast in the final session initially moved Capps up a few spots, but he slipped back to No. 7 by the time the session wrapped up.
A four-time winner at Pomona, Capps went into race day looking for his first-ever win at the season finale. In a first-round battle between Funny Car veterans, Tim Wilkerson and Capps were nearly even leaving the starting line. The NAPA Toyota started to lose traction around the 330-foot mark, and Capps had to coast across the finish line to a 4.595-second pass.
“Obviously, you’d love to win the last race of the season,” Capps said. “Last year was epic – to win the championship and be in the final round as the sun’s setting at Pomona. There’s not a better feeling than having a shot at winning at this legendary track. But man, what a great crowd all weekend. It’s been a great season for our team. Nothing to hang our heads about.”
Capps finished the season fourth in points with three victories in seven final-round appearances. His Dean ‘Guido’ Antonelli-led Ron Capps Motorsports team also won numerous Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty Challenges to win the Funny Car championship in the program’s inaugural season. Capps won the ‘regular season championship’ to start the six-race Countdown to the Championship in the points lead after winning the prestigious NHRA U.S. Nationals driving a special Don ‘The Snake’ Prudhomme tribute car.
“Just a fantastic year having all of our partners out and spending time with our NAPA people,” Capps said. “Taking the regular season point lead over was big on top of running the special tribute car at Indy and winning. We just stumbled in the Countdown, and you can’t do that. The competition is tough. But Guido has a lot of really cool things that we tested here that are going to make us better next year. We obviously had the chance to win the #2Fast2Tasty championship in its inaugural season. That was definitely a feather in the cap for our crew. That really tells a story of us being consistent on Fridays and Saturdays in qualifying and on race days. Just a great second year as a team owner. I’m just blessed to have so many great people in my corner.”
With the 2023 season in the books, Capps will now focus on his wide-ranging responsibilities as a team owner, including working with NAPA Auto Parts to design a new paint scheme. He plans to be back in championship contention next year in the new 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season.
“I can’t wait to start the season off,” said the 76-time national event champion. “There’s so much going on in the sport. It’s exciting going into 2024 with Mission Foods. I’ve got two of the big trophies at home. One says Mello Yello and one says Camping World. That’s two of the last eras of the NHRA series sponsors. We’re going to try to get us a Mission Foods world championship trophy.”
Capps and his NAPA Auto Parts team will celebrate their season accomplishments at the NHRA Awards Banquet on Monday evening at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Pechanga, Calif.
Start / Finish: Qualified No. 7 / Defeated by Tim Wilkerson in the first round
Points Earned: 53
2023 NHRA Camping World Series Points Standing / Total: No. 4 / 2,453 pts.
Established in 2021, Ron Capps Motorsports is a single-car NHRA Funny Car team owned and operated by reigning and three-time world champion Ron Capps. Headquartered in Brownsburg, Ind., the team made its on-track debut in 2022 and competes on the 21-race NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series circuit thanks to the support of NAPA Auto Parts, Toyota, and GearWrench.